Status anxiety

When the Welsh go it alone, blame me

After all, lots of the seem to blame me for things already

13 September 2014

9:00 AM

13 September 2014

9:00 AM

Oh dear. I think I may have inadvertently contributed to the dissolution of Great Britain. I’m not claiming sole responsibility. In due course, when the blame game begins, I’ll play second fiddle to the party leaders, Gordon Brown, Eddie Izzard and successive generations of carpet-bagging aristocrats. Nevertheless, when the rise and fall of the British Isles is written, I’ll be deserving of a minor footnote. I’m talking, of course, about the imminent secession of Wales from the United Kingdom.

I say ‘imminent’, but it’s contingent upon a ‘yes’ vote in next week’s Scottish referendum, which isn’t yet a foregone conclusion. But I don’t see how a referendum on the future of Wales can be avoided if the Scots secede, shortly followed by a Northern Irish referendum, a Cornish referendum, a Black Country referendum and a referendum on the Isle of Sheppey. Some people have speculated about an English referendum, but at this rate there won’t be anywhere left to secede from. On the contrary, we’ll be reduced to trawling the dregs of the former Soviet empire looking for impoverished countries willing to accept our generous welfare subsidies in return for adding their colours to our flag. Mind you, that might be dangerous given that Putin will have his nuclear submarines parked in the Clyde at that point.

If there is a Welsh referendum, I fully expect a piece I wrote for the Daily Telegraph last week to be dredged up by the nationalists. It was supposed to be a light-hearted response to President Obama’s invitation to his fellow Americans to visit Wales at the end of the Nato summit. ‘You can see the extraordinary beauty, wonderful people and great hospitality,’ he said. ‘So I’d encourage everyone in the United States to come visit Wales.’ Not a typical reaction after spending two days in Newport, but still.

The message of my article was: Americans, be warned. The Welsh are, by some margin, the chippiest people in Europe, ready to take offence at the slightest provocation. I told a story about how I’d made some mildly derogatory remarks about the Welsh language — what have they got against vowels? — during a live appearance on BBC Radio Wales, only to be held hostage by a member of the Taff Taleban who motored over to the station in Bangor and nobbled me on the way out.

I took the precaution of saying that any Welshmen who took umbrage at being described as ‘oversensitive’ would only be proving my point. But if I thought that would discourage them, I was mistaken. Within seconds of the article appearing I was deluged with abusive tweets and comments, being described as an ‘ignorant buffoon’, a ‘racist’ and a ‘typical Tory’. ‘What a sweet fellow Toby seems to be, and not in any way patronising,’ tweeted Jonathan Harper. ‘Can’t understand why he’s disliked.’ (I’ve corrected his spelling and syntax, obviously.)

It was the ‘typical Tory’ stuff that was most revealing. For Welsh nationalists, the era when rapacious English landlords stole their land and forced the local peasantry to work 12 hours a day, six days a week, to earn a loaf of bread is still upon them. It’s escaped their attention that for the past 50 years at least, almost the exact opposite has been happening, with ‘carpet-bagging Southerners’, a majority of them Conservatives, willingly handing over their hard-earned money to prop up crumbling Welsh public services.

I’m not suggesting that Welshmen should simply tug their forelocks and move on when confronted with a munificent Englishman such as myself. The truth is, I like the fact that the Welsh are on such a hair trigger when it comes to the merest hint of Tory condescension. In the ongoing pageant that is British national life, I’ve cast the Welsh in this role and the drama would be all the poorer if they didn’t conform to type. I feel as most Englishmen do towards the Welsh — like Gandalf surveying a village full of restive, quarrelsome but ultimately lovable hobbits.

I don’t suppose many Welsh nationalists will be placated by this description. My Telegraph article will be held up as Exhibit A in the case for the prosecution against ‘Tory toffs’. They will prevail, borders will be erected, and I’ll need to take my passport with me on my annual pilgrimage to the Hay Literary Festival — or, rather, the Gwg Ktghrsfg Brwyklnm, to give it its proper Welsh name. That’s assuming I can get into the country, which after this piece may be in some doubt.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Toby Young is associate editor of The Spectator.

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Show comments
  • Bill_der_Berg

    If you insist.

  • marklu

    “My Telegraph article will be held up as Exhibit A in the case for the prosecution against ‘Tory toffs’” No, it will be held up as Exhibit W by anyone who thinks you’re a complete dick

    • Michele Keighley

      I love your comment.. . leap in, both feet and immediately prove his point!!

      • Tubby_Isaacs

        Why do you think he’s Welsh?

      • marklu

        Not really!! I’m not Welsh!! I think maybe you have leapt in!! I love your comment too!! Especially using double exclamation marks to convey the idea that you are humorous!! It’s great fun isn’t it!!

        • Michele Keighley

          I couldn’t find a smiley face; and is that sarcasm I read?
          I’m not sure!! and here’s another two for good luck !!

          • Kennybhoy

            colon + lower case hyphen + bracket = smiley 🙂

            Or you can replace the hyphen with an o. :o)

    • Tubby_Isaacs

      Notice tumbleweeds here as well as on his serious stuff?

  • Tubby_Isaacs

    “I took the precaution of saying that any Welshmen who took umbrage at being described as ‘oversensitive’ would only be proving my point. ”

    Playground bully logic. Pathetic beyond words. Na, na, na, go and tease that kid over there. Whooo, if he reacts, proves he’s worth teasing. Let’s do it again. Another article!

    God only knows what “Welsh nationalism” has to do with anything. People responded because they know a bit about the history of Welsh and can spot juvenile wind ups a mile off.

    Perhaps though some of them confused you with that “smug Metrpolitan elite”. What a daft mistake that would be.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Toby has just done for the Tory Party in Wales what Matthew Parris has done for the Tories in England: two very unpleasant people.

  • Tubby_Isaacs

    Not many comments here.

    Would that prove you were right all along, and even “Welsh Nationalists” have had to bow down before your last word?

    There aren’t really very Welsh Nationalists anyway- even Plaid Cymru don’t want independence except in the long term. Can’t you admit that most people who thought you were a twat were ordinary folk?

  • rtj1211

    ‘If I call your wife a hairy-arsed, droopy titted old cow and you get your dander up in response, you really are rather over-senstive’.

    Mr Young: your biggest problem is not your political allegiances, but your self-righteous belief that it is for you and your kind, alone, to define what is over-sensitive and what is the upholding of standards of decency, decorum and the appropriate role of a guest in someone else’s living room.

    It is not and for every welsh person who is outraged at your English rudeness, there are ten outraged UKIP/christian downtrodden self-righteous ‘salt-of-the-earth’ English folks who are outraged by Muslims trashing their cherished culture.

    You don’t go around calling that lot ‘over sensitive’ do you??

    WHY NOT????

    Perhaps the next time the Welsh visit Twickers five hundred of them could be persuaded to make a detour to Acton on the way home and piss all over your wife’s front garden flowers??

    I do hope you’ll take it all as the ‘banter of rugby’s give and take’ and not expostulate, ring up the boys in blue or generally suggest that the Welsh don’t know how to behave.

    They’d just be teaching you that proper behaviour is in the eyes of the host and the beholder not the guest and the urinator, after all…….

  • dalai guevara

    Toby, my dear friend Maxine Peake gave a speech on TV last night. Did you have the chance to watch it? It was heartbreaking, I nearly cried. The beauty of Maxine’s speech is easy to explain.
    It’s works both for the Scots and the English, each in their own separate ways.

  • Livia

    “After all, lots of the seem to blame me for things already”

    Them, or the Welsh. This magazine is getting worse than the Guardian for spelling and grammar f*** ups.

  • Glyndwr

    No mention of the Tafia, the Welsh Cosa Nostra? More elegant than the ‘Taff Taleban’.

    • Gwangi

      Indeed – I get sick and tired of the Tafia – the crachach – who control everything in Wales. Like William Hague’s wife’s lot and the controllers of S4C. Let’s grind em up and feed em to sheep!

  • Blindsideflanker

    The Welsh will never leave, they like English peoples tax money too much. Last time I looked 69% of their economy was dependent on the state. So you can be as rude to them as much as you like.

    If the Unionists wanted to restore the Union in short order, all they have to do is make these faux parliaments and assemblies raise the taxes for the money they spend.

    But before you send Wales off into the Atlantic, we should allow Monmouthshire to decide if they wish to be part of Wales or England.

    • mixodorians

      If there was a referendum of the welsh people (where only the people who ticked the welsh tick box in the last census were allowed to vote) and not one that included the 40% of English pensioners and English oddballs that reside here…the welsh would be gone.

      • Blindsideflanker

        And who is going to pay the 69% of the Welsh GDP that is currently being funded by the English tax payer?

        The Welsh ain’t going anywhere, unfortunately.

        • Gwangi

          To be fair, Wales gets way less subsidy than Scotland and that is unfair.

      • Gwangi

        Don’t be daft! Most Welsh people do not want independence. Most Welsh have English ancestry too, as do most Scots. No real genetic DNA difference between the English, Welsh and Scots – that is all a Nationalist intolerant construct to justify smallminded parochialism and ethnic bigotry.

  • mixodorians

    Its the same ole stuff from the same ole English supremacist playbook.
    Insult the welsh.
    One or two react.
    You then gleefully call them chippy and say they have no sense of humour.
    So you get to pile on the bigoted insults..before the welsh even know what’s happening.
    Pretty disgusting and warped actually.

  • contingent upon a ‘yes’ vote in next week’s Scottish referendum, which isn’t yet a foregone conclusion.

    It will fail. No foregone conclusion, indeed.

  • Nicholas I

    Why shouldn’t the Welsh also be free to get direct instruction from Brussels and kowtow directly to the jew?

    • MC73

      Which Jew? I have a Jewish mate who lives in Brussels, it must be him! He’ll be a bit shocked to find himself ruler of Wales post-independence but he is a resourceful chap…

      • Nicholas I

        “The jew”, The Global Parasite. Don’t know about your friend in Brussels.

      • Nicholas I

        Re “He’ll be a bit shocked to find himself ruler of Wales post-independence but he is a resourceful chap.” : Like Alan Shatter, the jewboy whom the Jewish Journal referred to as “Our Man in the Dail” (until he got the boot for corruption)?

        • Cymrugel

          Why don’t you piss off back into your hole you stinking bigot?

  • Nicholas I

    Only read the first paragraph. Boring. Badly written.

  • Liberty

    If and when Scotland goes it will be such a disaster for Scotland that Wales and NI would – if they ever had a vote – overwhelmingly vote against independence.

  • Gwangi

    ‘The Welsh are, by some margin, the chippiest people in Europe, ready to take offence at the slightest provocation.’
    Compared to the Scots and the French?
    You are talking about the awful Welsh nationalists who most Welsh people laugh at mostly, and who represent about 1% of the population.
    Most Welsh people do get sick and tired of having become the main target for lazy unfunny comedians and media munchkins who pick on them now they can’t make jokes about the Irish or Blacks or P words…
    Quality of life in Wales is way better than in the south east of England; people on average wages can live well here. In London they are squeezed into crime-ridden slums.
    And Newport? Well, just a town with a fascinating industrial history – surrounded by gorgeous countryside.
    Only 20% max would vote for full independence anyway. The Welsh aren’t as thick as the Scottish maybe?

  • Cymrugel

    What is it with London metropolitans and the word “chippy”?

    In my neck of the woods a chippy is a place where you can load up on fried potato’s and fish in batter – with perhaps a free portion of mushy peas thrown in, in future if those generous chaps over at the No campaign come through.

    It seems that everyone who doesn’t like being ignored, insulted and patronised is in fact “chippy”; not justifiably angry; not fed up with being insulted; not unwilling to put up with being treated as a second class citizen in their own land by some bald berk who earns a fortune for talking bollox in a right wing magazine.

    No they are all chippy.

    Well some of us feel that the likes of Master Toby are themselves a bit chippy.
    That’s why he got flung out on his ear when he tried the same patronising crap in the USA – they don’t have to grin and bear it you see Toby – they just sack you.

    Perhaps the London reaction to the Scottish referendum – you know ; all the threats and warnings of dire consequences – might be seen as being a touch chippy; that and the threat to flounce out of the EU if them garlic chomping foreigners don’t do as they are told.

    Just a thought.

  • Richard Lewis

    The Southern English dont subsidise Wales though.

    Wales produced vast amounts of wealth that fed the empire with little reinvestment

  • R Williams

    We are a tolerable bunch, we worked hard for the English Economy and traded in English goods, we helped the English win at Cricket (even though we don’t have our own national team) and we allowed the Principality lie to carry on until 2011, we didn’t even have a party to celebrate Wales’s Country status, we put up with Westminster underpayment and we put up with the ‘England and Wales’ status and most importantly, we put up with the Union flag that doesn’t contain the Welsh dragon even though we should have it

  • Nicholas Daniels

    He writes “The Welsh are, by some margin, the chippiest people in Europe, ready to take offence at the slightest provocation. I told a story about how I’d made some mildly derogatory remarks about the Welsh language — what have they got against vowels?” Welsh has 7 vowels, English has 5. Moron.